Web design has come a long way since the launch of the World Wide Web (Who even calls it that nowadays?). I remember a time when the coolest websites around meant scrolling through pages of Comic Sans text with a tiled or neon bright background while listening to some low quality MIDI song in the background. (Did you know the Space Jam website is still fully functional? Check it out here.)
Thankfully, that’s all in the past. Today, we have cleaner layouts, optimized navigation systems, and engaging media. Important information gets displayed exactly where we want it at exactly the right time. Seriously, have you ever been to a website where you’re seconds away from exiting the site and all the sudden there’s a small pop-up that convinced you to stay a little bit longer? It’s as if Clippy were back to save(?) the day!
All this is due to the countless hours of testing user interface and user experience design.
Whether a website is an eCommerce site, leads generation site, media/news outlet, or just a personal blog, it WILL look like an eCommerce site, leads generation site, media/news outlet, or personal blog (respectively). If the site doesn’t fulfill the template of its category, visitors get confused and have that 5-second bounce.
We’re trained to expect certain UI elements to be exactly where we ‘want’ them to be. And if we can’t find it, then we are quick to deem the site nonfunctional. We want information in front of our face with as little work as possible. But because of this ‘simplistic’ uniformity, websites are starting to look exactly like each other in their categories.
Website logo placed here. Navigation menu across here. Scrolling marquee with Call-to-Action feature here. Search bar and Social Media Icons up there. Contact info down there. You get the point.
Of course, there may be some cool new design element or feature that makes a website ‘unique’ and ‘interesting’. But how much of an impact is that to your visitors’ user experience? Make the user experience easier and you’ll find your business converting more of your visitors. In other words, optimize your funnel to reduce the amount of drop-offs and you’re guaranteed to to see better conversion rates.
It’s definitely a whole lot easier than rebranding your entire product/service. You can have the most amazing product/service in your industry, but if people get frustrated trying to go through the process, it means naught. Also, you may risk rebranded incorrectly. And in turn, you might just lose your most valuable customers and followers.
So don’t dismiss the idea of making your site looking like someone else’s website. Especially if you’re copying a competitive business or organization that’s outperforming yours. Obviously they’re doing something right, so why not emulate it and make it better. Maybe someone on your team can find a way to improve something in the UI/UX design that leads to your success.
Good web design is good web design. ‘Nuff said.